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Policy and Enforcement Briefing: Senate Saves EPA Rules, BP Fines, Rat Bait Cancellation

Senate Democrats on Thursday defeated a Republican-sponsored jobs package that included a provision to block EPA rules that will scale back toxic emissions from industrial boilers and cement factories, Reuters reported. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) was the lone Democrat to vote for the bill and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to cross party lines in opposition.

BP will pay $50 million in civil penalties to Texas to settle fines for emissions from its Texas City refinery and alleged safety violations that led to a fatal explosion in 2005, Reuters reported. The company has already paid a $50 million fine to the federal government for alleged violations at the refinery which produces 406,540 barrels per day.

The EPA announced that it has taken another step toward removing from the consumer market 20 mouse and rat poisons that the agency says are far more toxic than widely available alternatives. The EPA has convened a scientific advisory panel to study the recommendation as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Some of the companies facing cancellation are  makers of D-Con, Spectrum Group makers of Hot Shot and Rid-a-Rat and Liphatech Inc. makers of Generation rodent control products.

Two congressmen have introduced a bill to extend for four years the soon-to-expire production tax credit for the production of wind power, geothermal and hydropower, North American Wind Power reported. The sponsors, U.S. Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., are members of the Committee on Ways and Means.

House Republicans are touting a bill that would tie new infrastructure funding to revenue generated from an expansion in domestic energy production, The Hill reported. Speaker  John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the plan responds to the president’s call to fix the nation’s crumbing roads and bridges, but is the “opposite of stimulus” because it relies on a devoted revenue stream.

The EPA announced on Thursday that it will release the preliminary results of its much-anticipated study of hydraulic fracturing by late 2012, Reuters reported. Congress requested the study after numerous reports that the practice as contaminated drinking water supplies in areas of dense natural gas drilling.

Two independent studies called for in Maryland’s ambitious proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2025 have concluded that the plan will not jeopardize the state’s electricity supply or damage manufacturing, Science Daily reported. The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act requires an additional independent study by 2015.

The State Department is defending its decision to hire a contractor with long ties to TransCanada to work on the key environmental impact statement for the company’s Keystone XL pipeline, The New York Times reported. The department said Cardno Entrix, an environmental contractor in Houston, had no conflict of interest, but Sens. Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said they were still skeptical.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he will force a vote on his bill to block the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which will force cuts in power plant pollution, The Hill reported. Paul told reporters he expects several Democrats to support the measure, which has already passed in the House.

A group of Republican lawmakers in Congress are stepping up opposition to the EPA’s initiation of a rulemaking process to study the types of water and wetlands subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), among others, said they believe the agency is planning to misinterpret recent Supreme Court rulings and “vastly expand” the regulatory reach of the Act.

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